What was I Scared of? - Dr. Seuss is a wonderful classic tale, perfect for the Halloween season as well as any time of year one is in the mood for a good, spooky story with the added benefit of a moral here as well.
What was I Scared of? is a tale told in the first person from the point-of-view of the main character as he becomes most disturbed by seeing an eerie, empty pale green pair of pants walking around town with nobody in them. As this boy continues on his daily activities, he keeps running into this empty pair of pants which this boy finds most unsettling, leading up to a close encounter with these empty pants that compels this boy to shriek for help, causing these pants to cry. The empty pant’s reaction makes this boy quickly develop empathetic feelings for the empty pants, calming them down and becoming friends.
This is a very special story for our family as this tale is my husband’s favorite story of all time, originally published as a short story, as part of a compilation of Seuss tales in The Sneetches and other Stories.
As a child, my husband called this story “The pants with nobody inside them,” but when I first downloaded this book for my son, I instantly knew that this was the tale that shaped his childhood.
Like the other Dr. Seuss apps brought to devices by Oceanhouse Media, this ebook allows one to listen to narration or not, as well as the option of Auto-Play where the page turning is automatic - a nice choice for young readers, even allowing one to put the device down and simply listen to these stories. An interactive element is also used here where one can tap objects found on the screen to see and hear these words displayed prominently, although the narration of these words never talks over the reading of these stories, a nice touch as is the highlighting of the text if this app is enjoyed in "Read To Me" or "Auto Play" mode.
The look of this app is very faithful to the original art found in this story, as the images from each page in the tale can be found within. Here, the “Ken Burns Effect” is used, with the panning and zooming of these illustrations to correspond with lines of text, guiding readers where to look for great effect.
What was I Afraid of? is a more monochromatic tale than other Dr. Seuss stories, taking place at night and using a wonderful dark turquoise with black detailing that fills most of these scenes, the backlit screen of the iPad and iPhone really makes this color pop, as it does the pale yellow and green used in bringing these characters to life.
For me, what has made this app a favorite of mine is the included music which elevated this book into masterpiece territory. This music used so eloquently translates the characters' hesitation, trepidation and fear, with poetic use of a xylophone and the deep, somber tone of the bassoon in ways that very much moved me.
I admit that when asked, my husband says that as a kid having the story read to him by his mother, this tale was more wonderfully strange and odd to him, not scary at all, but the tone this music brings to this story is decidedly suspenseful and creepy, adding an editorial spin within this classic - a decision that works for me wonderfully, but I can imagine that very sensitive children might be upset by the mood created here.
Narration is included that is well-done in its own way, but my husband would have preferred to dig Boris Karloff up from the grave to narrate this story. This not being possible, I know he would have preferred someone with a deeper, more resonating voice than the option offered of a woman who pleasantly narrates this app.
Having said this, this is a note that does not greatly affect my enjoyment of this application, and a different voice combined with the included music may have made this scarier than what most children could apprecaite. Parents also have the option of reading this book to their children as well if they so desire, and it is especially nice that the musical score can still be heard when the narration is turned off.
I am glad to report that my son enjoys this story very much as well, listening to it long past last year’s Halloween season when we first purchased this app. This story also contains an important lesson about judging others on first appearances and tolerance told in a way that is most memorable and affecting.
If one has not already added this storybook to their library of apps, I highly recommend them to do so, not only for this Halloween season, but for a long time to come as well.